Your investment property ongoing costs
As any investor who has experienced a few ups and downs with their property will tell you, property investment isn’t just a set-and-forget type of activity. It’s something that can and will offer very lucrative rewards – but you only reap what you sew, which means ongoing time and financial commitment to your investment property.
If you do plan to invest in real estate, it’s likely you’ve already anticipated some of the ongoing costs, but it’s always handy to have a good overview of all costs so you can plan ahead and make your investment as lucrative as possible.
It is unlikely most people will have enough money to pay for an investment property outright, which means borrowing money from the bank. Despite low interest rates, in a lot of areas in Australia property prices are quite high and rental income won’t quite cover repayments. This is called negative gearing and will be handy come tax time, but does mean you’ll have ongoing costs relating to the difference between rental income and loan repayments.
Your investment property strata fees
As a landlord, you are responsible for paying the strata fees for your property if you own an apartment, townhouse or any other dwelling under strata title. These fees are generally charged quarterly and might mean the gap between rent and loan repayments gets a little wider.
Council rates and water
Paying council rates for residential property is the responsibility of the landlord. In contrast, for a commercial property, all rates and water are generally paid by the tenant. Rates and water are usually bills that come in quarterly. If water saving standards are implemented by the landlord, the tenant usually pays the water usage rates in residential property.
It’s a good idea to take out a Landlord's Insurance Policy for your investment property. Landlord's Insurance covers your building, substantial damage caused by your tenant that can’t be recovered from the tenant's bond, and any loss of rent not covered by the bond.
While hopefully you’ll have great tenants (and most of them are!) and never need to call on your insurance, it will help you sleep at night knowing you don’t have to foot the bill for damage or loss of rent.
Property management costs
Unless you choose to manage your property yourself – which is often more stress than it’s worth for both you and your tenant – you will contract a property manager to look after everything from finding a tenant, to check in and check out, and inspections. Property management fees usually include an admin fee in addition to a small percentage of your weekly rental income.
While your insurance will cover a lot of problems, there will be some things it doesn’t cover, and others you’d just rather pay for so you keep your premium low. As a landlord, you may want to consider having a sinking fund you regularly contribute to, that is set aside for repairs to your investment properties. You have an obligation to your tenant to fix things quickly and safely and this can be costly if you’re not prepared.
Cleaning costs and updates
When a tenant moves out, especially a long-standing tenant – this can be the perfect time to give the place a bit of a face-lift so it more appealing to future tenants and can possibly even achieve more rent. Cleaning costs are fairly minimal, but updates like kitchens and bathrooms – which are the knock out performers in improving your home – can run into the thousands if you let them. Consider your options carefully.